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L'Espalier Question

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My girlfriend and I are going to L'Espalier soon for our 4 year anniversary. We are most likely going to get the Seasonal Degustation. I'm not generally terribly picky, but for the amount of money I'll be paying, I'd really like to enjoy the meal. If there is an item on the degustation menu that does not sound particularly appealing, how willing would they be to allow a substitution from the three course prix fixe menu? Would they only allow us to substitute the first two courses with dishes from the first course on the prix fixe menu and the second two from the main course section. Another consideration is whether they would let ONE of us substitute a dish and the other one keep the one listed.

I'd appreciate any help you guys could give.

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L'Espalier
774 Boylston St, Boston, MA 02199

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  1. I'd call them and talk to someone and ask. I'll bet they can have a little flexibility if you give them enough time to prepare and ask really nicely.

    My second thought is that at L'Espalier, even the things that don't *sound* appealing usually are extremely appealing when you put them into your mouth. But tastes vary.

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    L'Espalier
    774 Boylston St, Boston, MA 02199

    1. Though I haven't had the tasting at L'Espalier, I have at many other restaurants and generally they will ask if there are any food allergies, or something that the guest just doesn't eat. At Craigie on Main, for example, my wife always tells them she doesn't want any cock's comb in her dishes, and I tell them no banana for me (yeah I hate bananas).

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      L'Espalier
      774 Boylston St, Boston, MA 02199

      Craigie on Main
      853 Main Street, Cambridge, MA 02139

      5 Replies
      1. re: kimfair1

        How far will they let you take that though before they say to buzz off? Would they let you nix an entire class of protein ('no mammals', 'no fish', or even make it veggie altogether 'no meat')?

        1. re: jgg13

          L'Espalier does a vegetable version of the degustation.

          I imagine subsets of the main degustation, e.g. no mammals, are easily fulfilled by substituting from the vegetable degustation.

          I do think, however, that these sorts of requests take away from the experience. Relax and just let yourself be surprised.

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          L'Espalier
          774 Boylston St, Boston, MA 02199

          1. re: rlove

            I just never would have thought to put restrictions on it, so was curious how far they'd generally let you go before they throw their hands in the air and tell you it's no longer the chefs whim at work :)

            1. re: jgg13

              I have no idea as those are our only restrictions. I inform tham of those only because A. I was served a banana dessert there once in a tasting menu (thankfully the wife's was not banana so we switched), and B. my wife was served cock's comb there and really didn't like it (I liked it).

              1. re: kimfair1

                Cool. I tend to avoid those things specifically because of the "what if their whim involves something I *know* I won't like" factor. I was just trying to come up with extreme examples earlier, good to know that minor things here & there aren't a big deal.

      2. L'Espalier will certainly make any changes to the menu that you request, but you might not know what you are served a priori. It is a tasting menu, not a prix fixe.

        I'd suggest if you are allergic to an ingredient, or absolutely refuse to eat something, to tell the waiter when ordering, and let the chef make changes as he deems fit. Otherwise, just go with the flow. You'll be happy.

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        L'Espalier
        774 Boylston St, Boston, MA 02199

        1. I normally reserve superlatives, but I've found L'Espalier to be seriously the most flexible restaurant I've ever experienced when it comes to substitutions. Not only have they never balked at a request I've seen thrown at them, but they've even preemptively offered to make any substitutions from the Degustation.

          Just a semantic note too --- at L'Espalier "Prix Fixe" refers to one appetizer, one entrée, and one dessert out of a choice of many from each category. "Degustation" refers to four savory courses and one dessert, from a set that's listed in advance. "Chef's Tasting Journey" refers to a tasting menu with many more smaller courses where the particular dishes are up to the chef's whim, unless you make any other specifications.

          Without even asking the server has often offered to substitute a different dish that appears among the selection of the "Prix Fixe" for any of the specific ones in the Degustation, and vice versa.

          I like the food at L'Espalier a lot, but while I think there are other restaurants in Boston with equally good food, L'Espalier still puts the "Fine" in Fine Dining. They are extremely hospitable and really strive to make you happy. I don't begrudge restaurants that have policies about no substitutions and such, but I appreciate the feeling of pampering at a place like L'Espalier. Similarly, the time that a waitress there accidentally spilled a glass of water on me, it seemed like a parade of managers made a pilgrimage to our table, each offering something more unnecessary than the last, "you must let us pay for your dry cleaning, just send us the bill." "Please, have a free cheese course." "20% off your entire bill." I expected Frank McClelland to come by and offer to commit harakiri to apologize. It was only a little water! None of that was necessary, but it didn't hurt. =)

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          L'Espalier
          774 Boylston St, Boston, MA 02199